United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
William T. Lawrence, Judge.
civil action, plaintiff Scott Rickard, an Indiana prisoner
currently incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional
Facility (“Wabash Valley”), alleges that the
defendants were deliberately indifferent in their treatment
of his terminal heart condition while he was an inmate at the
Putnamville Correctional Facility
pending before the Court is the motion for summary judgment
filed by defendants on May 22, 2017. Dkt. No. 16. Although
two defendants, Farrah Bunch and Trina Nickerson, have not
appeared in the action, the motion for summary judgment is
applicable as to them as well as the moving defendants.
See Malak v. Associated Physicians, Inc., 784 F.2d
277, 280 (7th Cir. 1986) (“[W]here one defendant files
a motion for summary judgment which the court grants, the
district court may sua sponte enter summary judgment
in favor of additional non-moving defendants if the motion
raised by the first defendant is equally effective in barring
the claim against the other defendants and the plaintiff had
an adequate opportunity to argue in opposition to the
motion.”). The plaintiff filed a response in opposition
on June 1, 2017. The defendants replied on June 15, 2017.
defendants' motion argues that the claims alleged against
them are barred under the exhaustion provision of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §
1997e, that requires a prisoner to first exhaust his
available administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit in
court. Mr. Rickard's response argues that the defendants
did not follow Indiana Department of Correction policy in
resolving his informal grievance. He also claims that
defendants repeatedly obstructed the filing of grievances.
For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion
for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 16, is
judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A “material fact”
is one that “might affect the outcome of the
suit.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The court views the facts in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party and all reasonable
inferences are drawn in the non-movant's favor. Ault
v. Speicher, 634 F.3d 942, 945 (7th Cir. 2011).
applicable substantive law will dictate which facts are
material.” National Soffit & Escutcheons, Inc.,
v. Superior Systems, Inc., 98 F.3d 262, 265 (7th Cir.
1996) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). The
substantive law applicable to this motion for summary
judgment is the PLRA, which requires that “[n]o action
shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under
section 1983 . . . until such administrative remedies as are
available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e;
see Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002).
“[T]he PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies to all
inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general
circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege
excessive force or some other wrong.” Id. at
532 (citation omitted). The requirement to exhaust provides
“that no one is entitled to judicial relief for a
supposed or threatened injury until the prescribed
administrative remedy has been exhausted.” Woodford
v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88-89 (2006) (citation omitted).
Exhaustion of available administrative remedies
“‘means using all steps that the agency holds
out, and doing so properly (so that the agency addresses the
issues on the merits).'” Id. at 90
(quoting Pozo v. McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1024
(7th Cir. 2002)). Proper use of the facility's grievance
system requires a prisoner “to file complaints and
appeals in the place, and at the time the prison's
administrative rules require.” Pozo, 286 F.3d
at 1025; see also Dole v. Chandler, 438 F.3d 804,
809 (7th Cir. 2006).
the same time, the [PLRA] requires exhaustion only of
remedies that are ‘available.'” King v.
McCarty, 781 F.3d 889, 893 (7th Cir. 2015).
“Prison officials may not take unfair advantage of the
exhaustion requirement, ” and if they do, their conduct
can make the remedy process “unavailable.”
Dole, 438 F.3d at 809. “Administrative
remedies are primarily ‘unavailable' to prisoners
where ‘affirmative misconduct' prevents prisoners
from pursuing administrative remedies.” Hernandez
v. Dart, 814 F.3d 836, 842 (7th Cir. 2016); see Kaba
v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 684 (7th Cir. 2006)
(“[W]hen prison officials prevent inmates from using
the administrative process . . . the process that exists on
paper becomes unavailable in reality.”).
exhaustion is an affirmative defense, “the burden of
proof is on the prison officials.” Kaba, 458
F.3d at 680. So here, the defendants bear the burden of
demonstrating that the plaintiff failed to exhaust all
available administrative remedies before he filed this suit.
Id. at 681.
following statement of facts was evaluated pursuant to the
standard set forth above. That is, this statement of facts is
not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment
standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed
evidence are presented in the light reasonably most favorable
to Mr. Rickard as the non-moving party with respect to the
motion for summary judgment. See Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).
Williams was at all relevant times the Grievance Specialist
at Putnamville. As Grievance Specialist, Mr. Williams is
responsible for, and the custodian of, all grievances filed
by Putnamville offenders. Dkt. 33-1, ¶ 3. Indiana
Department of Correction (“IDOC”) Policy and
Administrative Procedure 00-02-301, the Offender Grievance
Process, is the IDOC policy governing the grievance process
and how an offender can exhaust his administrative remedies
using that ...